Friday, October 24, 2014

Sarawak fails to get 20 per cent oil royalty

October 23, 2014
Petronas threatens to halt new exploration, investments if Sarawak Government wants higher oil royalty.
sarwakoil300MIRI: Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem admitted, during a meeting with Orang Ulu community leaders here Tuesday night, that an impasse has been reached in negotiations with Petronas on hiking the present measly 5 per cent oil royalty to a respectable 20 per cent.
“To break the deadlock, the Sarawak Government will work on alternatives,” said Adenan in virtually conceding that the 20 per cent demand is a non-starter with the national oil corporation.
“Had the negotiations succeeded, the Sarawak Government could have reduced water and electricity tariffs.”
Adenan did not say why Petronas refuses to consider the 20 per cent oil royalty demand.
Among the alternatives, according to Adenan, are Sarawak companies being given priority over peninsula-based ones for Petronas contracts in the state; more Sarawakians to be hired by the national oil corporation; and the inclusion of the state in its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes.
At present, it is said, even cleaning contracts awarded by Petronas in Sarawak, are given to peninsula-based companies.
It’s believed that Petronas explained, during two rounds of negotiations with the Sarawak Government, why it cannot entertain the 20 per cent oil royalty demand put forward by it via a Resolution in the Sarawak Assembly.
If the Sarawak Government persisted with its 20 per cent oil royalty demand, according to sources familiar with the negotiations, the national oil corporation threatened to halt new explorations and investments in the oil and gas industry in Sarawak.
The threat, if carried out by Petronas, would be a blessing in disguise for Sarawak, according to industry sources.
The 20 per cent oil royalty pledge was first made in Sabah and Sarawak by the Pakatan Rakyat alliance in its election manifesto in 2013.
~ Free Malaysia Today

BMF Press Statement: Sarawak government sends troublemaker to anti-dam blockade on its one-year anniversary

23 October 2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 21.55.07
23 October 2014 – for immediate release
While indigenous peoples are celebrating the one-year anniversary of their blockades against the proposed Baram Dam, the government is sending a troublemaker and the police to eliminate the resistance.
(BARAM /SARAWAK / MALAYSIA) Today, the peaceful blockades against the proposed Baram Dam in Sarawak, Malaysia, are celebrating their one-year anniversary with games, prayers and a barbecue. The planned festivities, however, have been clouded by the Sarawak government’s attempt to remove one of the barricades erected by the indigenous landowners by deploying local troublemakers.

The Sarawak government and dam builder Sarawak Energy sent a man called Lah Anyi from the local village of Long Kesseh to one of the barricades erected against the proposed Baram Dam. Lah Anyi claims to have a concession for logging in the Baram area, although this is no longer true. 
Despite his claim being invalid, 50 policemen from the General Operation Force, which is experienced in dismantling blockades, and also representatives of the Forestry Department helped him to dismantle a barricade at the proposed dam site last Tuesday.

The indigenous protesters immediately set up a new barricade after Lah Anyi and the police had dismantled their previous one. The police gave them a three-day period of grace to remove the barricade – and this period ends tomorrow. The protesters have now mobilized more people from all over Baram to help defend the blockades against this immediate threat.

The government’s support for Lah Anyi is highly problematic, as Lah Anyi doesn’t possess a valid concession for the area and because the local communities have gone to court about the expropriation of their land for the dam and the ongoing logging activities: the case is still pending and is not meant to be heard in court before March 2015.

Sending a local troublemaker to disrupt the protests is just the latest tactic on the part of the Sarawak government, which is setting out to weaken indigenous resistance to the proposed Baram Dam. The blockades constitute an annoyance for the government and Sarawak Energy in their implementation of the 1200 Megawatt Baram Dam. As attempts to bribe the communities have not achieved the expected success, the authorities started sending out Lah Anyi to resolve the situation for them in early September. 
Now, however, the police are officially backing him up as well.

Peter Kallang, chairman of the indigenous grassroots movement SAVE Rivers, explained: “Lah Anyi and his family held a concession for logging in the Baram Area in the early nineties. He later joined the Autorich company, which today holds the concession for logging in the area that will be affected by the proposed dam. Lah Anyi, however, went bankrupt and is no longer working for Autorich or its subsidiary MM Golden. His claim to hold the rights to log the area is unfounded. We have reported him to the local police.”

Today, the activists are celebrating one year of their successful blockade with cultural festivities and are debating how to proceed. For them to have manned two blockade camps and several barricades for a year constitutes an immense achievement. The activists have repeatedly chased out workers wanting to conduct studies for the dam or carry out construction work on the access road. Work on the site has come to a complete standstill.

~ Bruno Manser Fonds Socinstrasse 37 4051 Basel Switzerland

Illegal logging ring hammered

by Lian Cheng, Posted on October 24, 2014, Friday

Statewide operation codenamed ‘Ops Tukul’ results in 10 arrests, including district CID chief
KUCHING: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has delivered a severe blow to an illegal logging ring with the arrest of 10 individuals, including a district Criminal Investigation Department (CID) chief.

In a recent integrated operation dubbed ‘Ops Tukul’ (Operation Hammer), the cop was arrested for allegedly accepting bribes totalling RM16,000 from illegal loggers in the area, MACC said in a statement.

The arrests were made following nine months of surveillance and investigations in 12 locations throughout the state, including here, Miri, Sibu, Ulu Baram, Lundu, Kapit and Miri.
MACC also froze 30 accounts belonging to 10 logging companies totalling RM18 million.

The other nine arrested – aged between 28 and 70 – include owners of timber companies and timber camp managers.

They were arrested for allegedly bribing officials with transactions ranging from RM300 to RM10,000 each.

“Although the sum of the bribes may seem insignificant, but the impact of the act is huge,” MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

“Based on MACC’s observation over a period of nine months (January to September), the Sarawak government lost some RM43 million to illegal logging. Annually the losses are estimated at not less than RM100 million.”

The MACC statement added that illegal logging was said to be linked with corruption.

It pointed out that the commission had received information from the public with regards to illegal logging nationwide and Sarawak had been the state providing MACC with the most information on illegal logging or timber theft.

The statement said apart from monetary losses, illegal logging had also damaged Sarawak’s environment, adversely affecting water catchment areas, rivers and wildlife.

According to the statement, illegal loggers had also been found felling protected tree species of high commercial value, including hardwood, such as Borneo ironwood and tapang.

‘Ops Tukul’ was a joint operation between MACC, the police, Marine Operations
Force, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Forest Department and General Operations Force.

Illegal logging has been a hot topic in the state following recent repeated calls by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem for the curbing of illegal logging through effective law enforcement.

Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan had also warned licensed loggers not to harvest timber outside the boundaries of their concessions, which would breach the terms stated in their licences.

Read more:

Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak revamping Adat Bidayuh 1994

Posted on October 24, 2014, Friday

KUCHING: Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak (Mais) is in the midst of revamping the Adat Bidayuh 1994 to preserve and strengthen the common law of the Bidayuh community.

Its Bidayuh section head Bati Juram said in view of this, the council was conducting workshops in Lundu, Bau, Kuching and Serian districts to receive feedback and inputs from the community.

He explained that this was necessary in view of urbanisation in Bidayuh areas and modernisation that may diminish the law and culture of the community.

“We (Bidayuh) are invaded by urbanisation and modernisation, which may eventually diminish our adat (law) and culture…so in view of this, we need to take proactive steps to preserve and strengthen our culture because ‘adat’ is our identity,” he said yesterday at the closing of Bidayuh Adat (law) and Customs workshop at One Hotel Santubong.

Some 93 Bidayuh community leaders, comprising Pemanca, Penghulu and village chiefs from Siburan and Padawan areas, participated in the four-day workshop which ended yesterday.

The moderators of the workshop were officers from Mais; namely Bati, Philip Tonis, Suimi Kinseng and Midil Dimang, who touched on the different laws of the community.

He added that similar workshops had been held in Lundu, Bau and Kuching, and the next one would be in Serian.

Bati also pointed out that Mais was working with other government departments like Land and Survey Department, National Registration Department and Immigration Department to rectify problems faced by the community.

Mais will also work with Mahkamah Bumiputera to address issues, particularly those related to marriage and divorce, he stressed.

“For the community like other ethnic groups, we are gradually moving forward because the government is very concerned about the minority groups in areas of culture, social and economy,” he asserted.

Bati also pointed out that ‘adat’ and religion were two different things, explaining that ‘adat’ is common law while religion is belief.

Meanwhile, Bidayuh Temenggong for Kuching Division Austin Dimin Niyon said it would be good for church leaders to work closely with village chiefs in explaining and addressing social issues affecting the community.

Besides that, he urged community leaders to be efficient and neutral in discharging their duties, and support the government of the day.

Read more:

'BN the one bringing shame to Malaysia'

1:00PM Oct 24, 2014

While Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Shahidan Kassim accuses PKR of smearing Malaysia’s reputation abroad, the party’s vice-president Rafizi Ramli countered that it is BN’s own actions that have brought shame to the country.

Rafizi said the issues he discussed in his meetings in Australia included the government’s use of race and religion to maintain power, the use of the Sedition Act to persecute dissidents, and  press alleged false charges against PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.

None of these, he said, are new issues and they have already received widespread coverage in the foreign media.

“The actions of Umno and BN have, all this while, been drawing the international community’s attention to Malaysia’s deteriorating democratic and human rights record.

“I wish to remind Umno and the BN that in today’s world, any action that is against democratic norms will invite condemnation and reaction from many parties around the globe,” Rafizi said in a statement today.

'Rights groups to rap Malaysia in their reports'

Based on his meetings with the international NGOs Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, he said, the two groups intend to criticise Malaysia’s human rights record in their respective annual human rights reports.

This is in part due to the charges against Anwar, Rafizi said, as well as the use of parts of the Penal Code for politically-motivated charges to give the appearance of a normal criminal investigation.

“Therefore, if Umno and  the BN sincerely want to safeguard Malaysia’s reputation in the eyes of the world, they need to stop taking actions that are against democratic norms,” he said.

Rafizi, who is also the Pandan MP, is a part of a PKR delegation that is meeting Australian politicians.

Others in the entourage are Penampang MP Darrell Leiking, Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin, Seri Setia assemblyperson Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, and Semambu assemblyperson Lee Chean Chung.

Shahidan (right) has reportedly accused them of giving foreign leaders the wrong impression of Malaysia.

"I don't agree with certain quarters going overseas to condemn our country... not just to party leaders but to the party that rules the country.

"You go abroad to reproach this country, then you return to Malaysia and ultimately meet the people you insult,” The Malaysian Insider quoted Shahidan as saying.

However, Rafizi asserted that is the right of the delegation members, as elected representatives, and PKR’s right as a political party to build relations with foreign politicians.

“The tactic of accusing the opposition that it likes to smear Malaysia’s reputation aboard can no longer be used.

“Umno and the BN do not make Malaysia, and their actions do not represent the people or the nation of Malaysia, especially when Umno and BN are a minority government that only got 47 percent of the votes in the 13th general election,” Rafizi added.
~ Malaysiakini

Rights NGO: End 'political prosecution' of Anwar

9:24AM Oct 24, 2014

An international human rights NGO has called on the government to end its "politically-motivated prosecution" of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

“Prosecuting Anwar for something that should never be considered a crime shows how far the government is prepared to go to remove a political opponent,” Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said.

“This drawn-out political theatre has long been exposed as an attempt by the government to take Malaysia’s most senior opposition leader out of political contention.

“Malaysian authorities should drop their case against Anwar or risk making a travesty of the country’s criminal justice system,” Robertson said in a statement today.

He argued "so-called sodomy laws, such as Article 377, contravene broadly-accepted international legal standards".

"The law should be replaced with a modern, gender-neutral rape law.”

Citing research by the Women’s Candidacy Initiative, Robertson pointed out that Article 377 of the Penal Code  has been invoked only seven times since 1938, out of which four involved Anwar.

"The willingness of the government of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to use the law repeatedly against one high-profile political opponent highlights the danger posed by this law as long as it remains on the books," Robertson said.

Anwar was acquitted on his second sodomy charge, but the decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal after the government appealed.

The PKR de facto leader is now appealing the latest decision before the Federal Court, and has claimed that his legal team is being targeted with the Sedition Act to impede his defence.

The attorney-general's insistence on engaging an external party, lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who is currently under a criminal investigation, has also raised concerns.
Meanwhile, Robertson also pointed out how the country’s sodomy law “seems to exist chiefly to persecute Anwar”.

“Prime Minister Najib should seek the law’s immediate revocation before it can be used to harass and imprison others.”

The United Nations Human Rights Committee, the international expert body that monitors civil and political rights, held in 1994 that sodomy laws violate rights to privacy and non-discrimination, he added.

“In 2011, leading members of the Commonwealth of Nations, to which Malaysia belongs, called for the abolition of sodomy laws."

“Prosecuting Anwar for something that should never be considered a crime shows how far the government is prepared to go to remove a political opponent.

“By using this law, the government is also putting the rights and freedoms of Malaysia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community at risk.”
~ Malaysiakini

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Activists condemn removal of Baram-dam blockade

Published: 23 October 2014
Natives protesting against the Baram dam in Sarawak. – Pic courtesy of International Rivers, October 23, 2014.

Natives protesting against the Baram dam in Sarawak. – Pic courtesy of International Rivers, October 23, 2014.
Human rights organisations are condemning authorities for dismantling a barricade mounted by anti-dam activists near Long Kesseh in Sarawak.
Calling it an act of intimidation, they are appealing to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to denounce the action.
The non-governmental organisations said they have appealed to Victoria Tauli-Corpuz to raise their concerns with Putrajaya over the actions taken to forcefully dismantle the barricade.
Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia, Suaram, and International Rivers said in a statement that the removal of the barricade by officers from the forest department and police, was an attempt to intimidate the indigenous peoples who are against the proposal to build the 1,200 megawatt Baram hydroelectric dam.
The logging road on which the barricade was mounted is claimed by a logging company with concession in the area, while native landowners said the road runs on their land.
The road provided the only access to the proposed dam site. The government's attempt to build a tarred road from Long Lama is also currently being held up by anti-dam activists who have mounted a barricade near the area.
The NGOs said the barricade was set up a year ago to “assert landowners' native customary rights (NCR) to land allocated against their will for the Baram dam”.
Opposition against the dam is strong among certain sections of the indigenous people living in the areas, notably the Kayans, Kenyahs, Orang Ulu, Ibans.
It is believed that the dam when completed could inundate 26 villages, including Long Kesseh, flooding 400 sq km of land and displacing between 6,000 and 20,000 people.
The dam is one of 12 the Sarawak government plans to build as part of its move to generate cheap, renewable energy and shift its oil and timber-based economy to an industrial-based one by 2030.
The native landowners affected by the Baram dam, including those in Long Kesseh, had never given consent for timber clearance or other preparatory project works to proceed on customary lands, said Sze Ning, a spokesperson for Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia.
Yet, she said, agents working with the logging concession company, are claiming the land is part of a concession they were granted.
“Although the circumstances related to the issuing of their logging permit remain ambiguous, the company has become associated with Sarawak Energy Berhad’s efforts to clear timber around the Baram River and help pave the way for the construction of the proposed hydroelectric project,” she said.
Serene Lim of Suaram said the barricade was an act by the anti-dam protestors to defend their customary property rights.
“They have not granted free, prior and informed consent for their land to be taken by the government or any private firm.
“That is why the people of Long Kesseh continue to affirm their rights to the area, and why they decided to rebuild the barricade.”
Lim said it was therefore unacceptable for the authorities to back the logging company's alleged incursion onto native customary lands, “while completely disregarding clear legal provisions and precedents protecting the rights of original landholders”.
It was due to this complicity of government authorities along with agents hired by logging and energy companies in violating fundamental human rights,  that Suaram and the other NGOs have decided to bring the case to the attention of the UN Special Rapporteur, she added.
Meanwhile, National Indigenous Peoples’ Network president Thomas Jalong said the confrontation at Long Kesseh was aimed at opening up grounds for the Baram dam to proceed.
“Sarawak Energy Bhd needs access to the area that is currently being defended by the villagers if they are to proceed with the proposed Baram dam.”
Jalong, however, said the confrontation and removal of the barricade had failed to intimidate the villagers.
The Bruno Manser Fund reported that a team of 60 policemen and forest department officers as well as representatives of the logging company were sent to dismantle the blockade on Tuesday.
But, as soon as the blockade was removed, the activists immediately set up a new one elsewhere along the road.
The police have given them three days to remove the blockade. – October 23, 2014.
- See more at:

Sarawak BN leaders slam 'pendatang' label

4:58PM Oct 23, 2014
By Joseph Tawie
Sarawak BN leaders yesterday spoke out against labelling Malaysians 'pendatang' (immigrant), urging Umno to follow Gerakan’s lead in taking action against members who do the same.

Parti Rakyat Sarawak chief James Masing said the move showed Gerakan "walked the talk".

"Gerakan walks the talk and big parties within Barisan Nasional such as Umno must also do the same thing," Masing told The Borneo Post yesterday.

He was commenting on the suspension of Johor delegate Tan Lai Soon for saying Malays are "also 'pendatang'" at the Gerakan annual general assembly (AGM) on Sunday.

Masing (left) echoes Gerakan secretary-general Liang Teck Meng who urged all BN parties to follow Gerakan’s lead in censuring members who make “racist” and "extremist" remarks at AGMs.

While Liang was speaking in general terms, the only major BN party which has yet to have its AGM this year is Umno.

Masing’s urging also comes as Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem told the Chinese community that it is wrong for anyone to call them pendatang.

"I wish to convey to the Chinese community that you’ve been here for hundreds of years, for four to five generations.

"So don’t call the Chinese 'pendatang'. It is not good," he was quoted by Bernama as saying in a speech in Kuching yesterday.

"You’re Malaysians, 'anak Sarawak'. Maybe during your great grandparents’ time, yes, but not now after four or five generations.

"You’re Chinese, sometimes you go to China to visit your relatives but after than you will come back to Sarawak," he was quoted as saying.

Adenan’s speech won him praise from political opponent Sarawak PKR vice-president See Chee How.

According to See, who is also Batu Lintang assemblyperson, Adenan’s speech is a message to Putrajaya to tackle the 'pendatang' issue.

"He (Adenan) has certainly shown the courage that the prime minister of Malaysia obviously lacks," he told Malaysiakini.

'Don't discrminate against your own'

Welcoming the chief minister’s statement, See, who is the Batu Lintang assemblyperson, said that good leader should not condone discrimination against his or her own people.

"Instead he or she should look beyond race, take care of everybody’s needs and inspires all to work towards a greater nation and ensure fair distribution of wealth thus generated.

"The capability of the state administration to sustain and advance a peaceful and harmonious society in Sarawak should be emulated by the Malaysian federal administration," See said.

See (left) said the CM’s speech is a first good step to discern himself from the racist politics practiced by the Umno-led BN administration, which has caused disunity and waste of resources.

He also commended Adenan for the state’s contribution of RM3 million to 14 independent Chinese secondary schools there.

However, he also urged the state to allocate grants for religious schools, national-type Chinese primary schools, mission schools as well as rural schools for the teaching of indigenous languages.

"Indeed, what Malaysia as a plural society needs is an education system that upholds the national language, ensures the equal rights and development of mother-tongue languages and improves the command of English."
~ Malaysiakini